20 Easy Plants 2016

May 27, 2016

Here is the link to my updated talk on 20 Easy Plants. Enjoy!

RMSi 20 Easy Plants 2016


Vareigated Sweet Iris

Here is the link for last night’s presentation on 20 (more) Easy Plants. RMSi 20More Easy Plants 2015

Fun with Foliage!

April 26, 2015

Heuchera Coral Bells (7)

Here is the link to my presentation “Fun with Foliage” RMSi Fun with Foliage 2015

20 Easy Plants

June 4, 2014

Here is the updated presentation on 20 Easy Plants from last night’s seminar:

RMSi 20 Easy Plants 2014

Happy Gardening!

Here is the condensed version of Sabrina’s “Tending to Your Trees” presentation. Thanks Sabrina for sharing!

Tending Your Trees Sabrina Selvaggi Blog

Trees are very important! Plant one today...

Trees are very important! Plant one today…



Reposting this since spring is supposedly here so the grass should start to green up, along with the weeds.


If you want a great lawn this summer, you will have to do some work.  The first three tasks should be done at least once a year, twice if you have bad soil, heavy compaction or a thin lawn.

There are 5 recommended tasks for building and maintaining a great lawn:

1. Aerate  – this will reduce compaction and get rid of thatch. No need to if you are on sand

2. Topdress  – this will feed your lawn and improve soil

3. Overseed  – this will thicken your lawn and fill any spaces so weeds won’t establish

4. Mow high  – at least 2 1/2 inches, but in the hotter months 3 inches

5. Don’t over water  – 1 inch, once per week, at most, including rain, or let your lawn go dormant in the summer, it is a natural adaptation.

Aerate once the lawn has dried up and is no longer damp. After aerating, add a well…

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I moved into a new house in August and couldn’t stand the front yard. I got to work right away at adding some curb appeal. It wasn’t hard at all! The photo below was 7-8 hours work and $200 (being the end of the season, I got some great deals!)

At the beginning….


The Steps:

  1. Choose your Space – Consider location, snow piles, dog’s peeing, ease of mowing, postman paths and kid routes.
  2. Plan and Design – Iscape and other apps, use other gardens for inspiration, be realistic about the size and maintenance
  3. Utilities Check – Ontario One Call!
  4. Get Rid of the Grass – Dig it out, solarize or sheet mulching. Make sure you get rid of ALL the grass and roots
  5. Amend  the Soil – Compost made from yard waste/ vegetative matter is the best!
  6. Choose your Plants  – Consider hydrozones, choose non-invasive (watching out for “spreads easily” on the plant tag), use some native plants, shrubs are a must have and VERY low maintenance, look for drought tolerant, hardy perennials.
  7. Mulch –  natural products are the best (wood chips, cedar, pine bark), 2-3 inches
  8. Efficient Irrigation – water only when necessary – use your finger to see if the soil is dry down 2-3 inches before adding any water), check the forecast!

Digging the edge…


The Plants I used (although the weren’t planted in the “after” photo below”:

Daffodils – Narcissus

Purple Coneflower – Echinacea Purpea

Sedum Autumn Joy “Purple Emperor”

Dwarf Goatsbeard – Aruncus aethusfolius

Coral Bells – Heuchera “Peach Flambe”

The Shrubs:

Tiger Eye Sumac – Rhus Typhina “Tiger Bailtiger”

Ninebark – Physcocarpus opulifolius “Diablo”

Emerald Cedar – Thuja occidentalis “Smaragd”

Golden Globe Cedar – Thuja occidentalis”Golden Globe”

 Almost done….


What I wanted to Plant if I had more sun….

Lavender – Lavandula angustifolia

Allium – Allium Spp – they are all great but have to be planted in the fall

Butterfly Weed – Asclepias tuberosa

Variegated Iris – Iris Pallida “variegata”

 Time and Water: Precious resources wasted on the pursuit of a green lawn!

How to save money on your new garden?

  • ˜Fall Discounts – up to 50%, but no warranty…
  • ˜Donations from friends– but be CAREFUL!
  • ˜Buy bulk mulch and compost
  • ˜Investment plants; shrubs and perennials – no annuals
  • ˜Less watering needed when planted in the fall – and choosing drought tolerant plants and shrubs means less/no watering next year!
  • ˜Reuse the existing plants until fall sales start (if you are impatient like me…)
Its not that hard, let me know if you have any questions!
Happy Gardening!

Good news for your lawn!


The cooler than normal weather has insect development lagging behind a normal season. For instance, our GTI site superintendent was working up one of the research ranges last week and tilled up a mass of 3rd instar European chafers. There was no sign of pupae or adults yet. In most years the first European chafer adult flights usually begin by mid-June. Annual bluegrass weevil adults are still being found in the turf and there are mostly the early instar weevil larvae being found in salt solution soaking up until now. The cool, wet conditions will also help mask the annual bluegrass weevil damage. We are also still finding large numbers of black turfgrass ataenius adults in our bi-weekly soap flushes here at GTI. Another weevil that is on the move now is the bluegrass billbug. We have observed a small number or adults moving in to the turf over the…

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There has been significant interest in the development of grass varieties to better meet the challenges of today’s turf conditions. The restrictions on cosmetic pesticides and outdoor water use have resulted in increased maintenance required for traditional turf grass varieties. In Ontario, turf is typically composed of cool season grasses which include Kentucky Blue Grass (KBG), Perennial Ryes and Fescues, each with both positive and negative characteristics. KBG is valued for its colour and its ability to self-repair due to its rhizomatous root structure, which is fairly short making it easier for sod harvesting. Unfortunately, this grass is more susceptible to pest problems including white grubs, chinch bugs and blue grass weevil. Its wider grass blade and shorter roots equates to a higher evapotranspiration rate, leading to increase water demand and/or early onset of dormancy in hot, dry weather.

The perennial ryes and fescues have longer roots systems, systemic endophytes (symbiotic fungal presence within the grass blade) to deter pests and have lower evapotranspiration rates compared to KBG, meaning longer periods before the onset of dormancy. The most common downside to these grass types is that they lack rhizomatous or stoloniferous root structures, limiting their ability to self-repair. Essentially these grass varieties are one seed = one plant, whereas the KBG is one seed =colony development. They are typically clump-forming and will need seeding to re-establish areas with die off or damage.

To maximize benefits and minimize challenges of all three, over-seeding existing lawns with a mixture of all three is encouraged. In recent years, there have been two new grass cultivars that capitalize on the benefits the three common cool season grass types. They are Regenerating Perennial Ryegrass (RPR) with determinate stolon roots and Regenerating Tall Fescue (RTF) with rhizomatous roots.

The determinate-stolons found in RPR grow from an auxiliary bud near the base of the mother plant and grows horizontally at, or just below, the soil surface, creating identical new plants as they grow. When RPR turf is damaged from an extreme or persistent traffic event, the determinate-stolon roots grow horizontally into the worn areas, developing roots and crown growth in the damaged area.

Regenerating Perennial Ryegrass

Regenerating Perennial Ryegrass

The rhizomatous roots found in RTF grow laterally, similar to the determinate stolons in RPR, spreading underground to grow new grass in bare spots. The ability for both of these root systems to self-repair was a characteristic previously sought after, and only common to KBG. These new varieties now have the ability to self-repair while retaining their beneficial characteristics of longer roots and systemic endophytes. Both are winter hardy and show increased drought and insect tolerance when compared to other varieties of cool season turf grass varieties. RTF’s root system can grow as deep as 1.2 to 1.8 metres to find out water sources and nutrients other grasses can’t. While RPR roots are not able to grow as deep as the RTF, they are shown to have better drought tolerance than other perennial rye grasses and can better stand wear and tear.

Rhizomatous Tall Fescue - RTF Water Saver

Rhizomatous Tall Fescue – RTF Water Saver

Guelph Turf Grass Institute Study:

The Guelph Turf Grass Institute conducted a RTF, RPR and Home Lawn Mix Trial in 2012 looking at alternative grass species for drought tolerance, weed invasion resistance and resistance to insect feeding. Three turf species were used; Rhizomatous tall fescue (RTF Barenbrug), Regenerative perennial ryegrass (RPR Barenbrug) and Home lawn mixture (50% Kentucky bluegrass, 20% perennial ryegrass 30% fine fescue). Plots of each grass species were either irrigated or non-irrigated. Both RPR and RTF showed greater insect resistance and had fewer bare spots without irrigation than the HLM. The RPR had better resistance to weeds, especially when irrigated, than the HLM, an area that RTF fell short on.
(Source: Pam Charbonneau OMAFRA Turfgrass Specialist Presentation on Landscapeontario.com from 2013 Turf Grass Symposium, Guelph ON)

So in summary, these grasses should better resist insect damage by grubs and chinch bugs, be able to fill in bare spots so weeds don’t and they will stay greener, longer, during a summer drought. I have started growing the RPR in my front yard and so far I am very impressed. Quick germination, great colour and good coverage. I applied them with compost and I threw on some bone meal in an attempt to discourage birds from eating the seed. I kept them moist during the hot days and they started germinating in four days and were almost fully germinated within the week. If you are looking for a better lawn, I would recommend trying out these new types. They may be hard to find, but worth the hunt.

From my research, a summary of the Pros and Cons for RPR and RTF:

My summary of the Pros and Cons for RPR and RTF

My summary of the Pros and Cons for RPR and RTF


For More Information:


The Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Act (2009) and the changing weather patterns have made lawn care a bit more challenging, but not impossible. A few steps will help you to grow a healthy, hardy, lawn that can compete with weeds and better resist pest and disease. 

Don't put up with a bad lawn just because you can no longer apply pesticides. it is possible to have a great lawn, its just takes a little work.

Don’t put up with a bad lawn just because you can no longer apply pesticides. it is possible to have a great lawn, it just takes a little work.

To do this you need to:

  •   Feed the soil
  •   Choose the right grass type
  •   Practice preventative management
  •   Monitor for pest or disease

Soil is the foundation to healthy plants. It is important to top dress with well-screened, weed-seed free compost. Compost:

  • Provides a whole range of nutrients; it is like a healthy meal versus just vitamins  (fertlizer).
  • Feeds those soil micro-organisms that keep the soil functioning.
  • Increases the water holding capacity of the soil. 

Just like humans, sometimes we may need to supplement our meals with vitamins, research is showing that some fertilizer may be warranted – BUT, applied properly:

  • Only 2x a season is needed, spring and fall.
  • Use a slow release in the fall (no later than Sept 15).
  • Choose one that has a good balance of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K).
  • Do not apply it before an expected rain event.

 A mix of grass species is best, look for a grass seed blend that suits your sun exposure and the amount of wear and tear your lawn receives. Include turf-type ryes and fescues which have longer roots and offer increased pest resistance. Keep an eye out for some very promising new grass species like RTF and RPR which may be listed as “self-repairing”.

For annual lawn maintenance:

  • Aerate, especially for heavily compacted (clay) soil.
  • Top dress your lawn with 1/3 inch of good screened compost
  • Overseed with a mix of grass seeds.
  • Mow properly; with sharp blades, do not cut your grass any lower than 2.5 – 3 inches
  • Leave clippings on your lawn so the water and nitrogen they contain goes right back to the soil.
  • Monitor and properly identify pests so that you know what, how and when to use a control method.

 If you water your lawn, water properly with a maximum of one inch of water a week, including rain. Avoid ‘sprinkling’ watering which promotes a weak shallow root system. If you don’t water your lawn, don’t start once the lawn has gone dormant, it will stress the lawn.